St. Michael Prayer

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do, thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, cast into hell satan and all of the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Glory to God in the Highest!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Forward to 2014

Knowing that nothing good is accomplished without Your Love and Your Help, I ask You to bless us, to bless me, as we look forward to the year 2014.  Father, You are the God of all creation.  It was a gift of Your Love, that Jesus came to earth as a tiny babe.  As a Man, Jesus would come to save our world from sin.  Holy Spirit, You were sent to us by  the Father and Jesus to guide us in our earthly sojourn.  You fill us with Your gifts and graces that will lead us to the Father, the Son, and to You, Mighty Spirit of God who live and reign forever and ever.  Amen.

Praise be to You, Mighty God and Father.
Praise be to You, Jesus, the Son of God and our brother.
Praise be to You, Holy Spirit, giver of gifts and graces, Counselor.

In 2014, I ask for these graces.

I ask for the gift of reverence for Jesus in the Eucharist.  I ask this for me and for all.  I ask that we learn to adore and worship Jesus as He should be worshiped.  He is Our King of Kings!  The great High Priest.

 The LORD lives! Blessed be my rock! Exalted be God, my savior! Psalm 18:47

"You who fear the LORD, give praise! All descendants of Jacob, give honor; show reverence, all descendants of Israel!" Psalm 22:24

All who sleep in the earth will bow low before God; All who have gone down into the dust will kneel in homage. Psalm 22:30

Give to the LORD the glory due God's name. Bow down before the LORD'S holy splendor! Psalm 29:2

I ask for the gift of prayer. 

“Beloved, pray for us.”  1Thessalonians 5: 25

“Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-17

I ask for the gift of a closer relationship with our God!

“O God, you are my God, I seek you,
    my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
    as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalm 63:1

I ask for the gift of kindness, not only to others, but to myself.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:32

“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.”  Matthew 7:12

I ask for the gift of patience, not only to others, but to myself.

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;  it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8

“Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3: 12-14

I ask for the gift of love, not only for others, but for myself.

“Love never ends.” 1 Corinthians 13: 9

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12

I ask that I learn to be less, and, You, Sweetest Lord, be more.

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. “ Jeremiah 29:11

I ask for the gift of selflessness.

“But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.”  Luke 6:35

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.” John 15: 12-14

I ask for the gift of trust in You.

“My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63: 8

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.”  Proverbs 3: 5-6

Thank You, Father.  Thank You, brother Jesus.  Thank You, Holy Spirit.


Monday, December 30, 2013

In 2013, I learned...

 That without God in my life, I have nothing.  I am nothing.                                                   

John 15: 5  I Am the vine, you are the branches.  Those who abide in Me and I in them bear much fruit because apart from Me you can do nothing. 

That even when I walk my path, if I am walking the path that God has chosen for me, I am at peace.

Job 22: 21 Agree with God and be at Peace.  In this way good will come to you. 

That when life is difficult, if I rely on God, in spite of the difficulties, I am safe.

Psalm 23: 1-4 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside still waters;
He restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths for His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil; for you are with me;

That If I sin and turn away from God, the confessional is the means for forgiveness and reconciliation.

James 5: 16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.

That although not easy, forgiveness is meant for everyone from the driver who goes well under the speed limit, driving me insane on the road,to the one who has destroyed our trust.

Mathew 5: 43-47  "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.  But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.  For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
That prayer is like eating.  It is our spiritual nourishment.  It is our connection to God.

Matthew 7: 7  “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you

Sirach 35: 16-17: He whose service is pleasing to the Lord will be accepted, and his prayer will reach to the clouds. The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds, and he will not be consoled until it reaches the Lord; he will not desist until the Most High visits him, and does justice for the righteous, and executes judgment.
James 1: 6-8: But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.  For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord.

Romans 12:12:  Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

7) That when we turn away from  our fellow human beings who are suffering, we turn away from Jesus.

Proverbs 21:13: He who closes his ear to the cry of the poor will himself cry out and not be heard.

Deuteronomy 15:11 Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, I therefore command you, “Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land.”

Mathew 25: 31-46“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,  and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.  Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink?  And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing?  And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’  And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;  for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’  Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life
That sin has grave consequences for our souls, even if the sins are not mortal sins.

Isaiah 59:2: but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you so that he does not hear.

That God never forces Himself on us.  He is there waiting for us to hear His invitation to Love.

Kings 19: 11-13 And he said, “Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. 13 And when Eli′jah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him, and said, “What are you doing here, Eli′jah?”
That God loves all.  He is Love embodied. 

 John 3:16  "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

John 4:7-21: Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.  In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.  In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.  Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his own Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world.  Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.  So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so are we in this world.  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.  We love, because he first loved us.  If any one says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.  And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also

Friday, December 27, 2013

Be Joyful! God is...

God is

Above all else
King of Kings
Holy Spirit
High Priest
Great High Priest

Add to this list!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ten Things to Do the Day After Christmas

1) Savor the Spirit of the New Born King.  Praise Him in song.  Now we sing the Christmas carols!

2) Find a church and attend Mass, not because you have to, but because you want to praise our New Born King.

3) Take 10 minutes to rest in the silence of the Lord.

4) If you did not go to confession during the season of Advent, find a Catholic Church, find a priest and go to confession.

5) If your family gathering was stressful take a bit of time to offer it to God.  Pray for your family.  Pray for those without families.  Just pray.

6) Remember that, now, the light has come into the world, and the world is better for it.  Thank God the Father for this gift of His Son.

7) Write a love letter to God.  Write it in your own handwriting.  He's there waiting for you.  He loves you, too.

8) Encourage your family to visit a Church with you today, even if it's just to see the inside of the church.  An hour away from the games will not hurt them or you.  Savor the silence of that visit.

9) Hold the hand of someone you love.  If they are not close by, hold them in your heart.  Ask God to bless them.  He will.

10) Offer your day to God.  

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Gift of Humility and Was God Generous with me!

I know that humility is a virtue on which I need to work.  I have to admit that I have not prayed to receive this gift, but God knows best, and He does things in His own time, in His own way.  I was given the gift of humility yesterday, and I was given this gift in a way that I will never forget.

I have to back up to Saturday.  This was the first time that I sang at Mass.  I was assigned to sing with a wonderful singer.  We did sound good together, she and I.  We had practiced together, and I did learn a lot from her.  She has a beautiful voice.  She took the lead, and I followed.  It was a success.  I left Mass feeling good about our help with the liturgy. 

Fast forward to Sunday Mass.  The cantor for the Mass did not show up.  I knew that our music director  would be playing and singing alone.  He has a magnificent voice!  I volunteered to help, if he would sing with me.  He did, but I missed cues, notes, and during the Lamb of God, I sang the wrong song.  Oh. My. Goodness. Gracious!  It was terrible!  I hung my head in shame.  I noticed the smell, too.  I had been sweating so much that I smelled.  I slunk out of church avoiding eyes and greetings. 

Brian had been kind.  He assured me that things would get better.   He knew I had been shaking, but I knew I had learned humility yesterday.  Looking down at the Mass and the congregation from that loft opened my eyes and my ears to the wonder of a beautifully sung Mass and how much music can enhance the liturgy or detract from it. 

I will try again another day, but I will never forget Sunday.  God blessed me with an early Christmas gift.  I learned humility through failure.  I learned that through failure, I had been blessed because I could no longer look upon the ministry of music in the same way again.  The seasoned cantors make this ministry look easy.  Trust me when I say this, It’s not an easy ministry.  Timing.  Singing.  Sound.  These elements all matter.  I screwed up, but I was given a good does of humility. 

Thank You, Lord.  You knew.  I learned.  Thank You!

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Journey Ends in Bethlehem

Luke 2: 1-14

The Birth of Jesus. 

 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled.  
This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.  So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town.

And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.  

While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son.  She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock. The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. 

The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

“Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Thursday, December 19, 2013

As Our Advent Journey Continues...

      We can forgive others, but can we forgive ourselves?

In the Our Father, we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…”

We’ve learned to forgive others.  As we traveled through this process, we released the pent up anger and allowed God the room to work in our souls, our lives.  We surrendered to Him the power that anger has over us.  He used His love to bring peace to our souls, our hearts, and our lives.  We became reconciled with our God through the process of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is not for wimps, and we must rejoice when we, through the graces of God, forgive those who have hurt us.

Now, fast forward.  We made a terrible mistake.  We have hurt someone we did or didn’t want to hurt.  We have learned to forgive others.  Now can we forgive ourselves?  The answer to this is yes, through the graces of our loving God we can, and through the gift of self love.

Many of us were not taught to love ourselves as we grew up.  We were told how terrible we were, and we were berated until it hurt, for the mistakes we made.  Our self esteem became attached to this negativity.  Now, we try too hard to please, to succeed, to control situations to bring about the outcome we want to see.  This is not self love, nor is this allowing God into our lives and trusting that He knows what’s best for us.  God’s job is to work miracles, not ours.  Anxiety is a great blocker to God’s graces.  Worry is a great blocker to God’s graces. It’s not easy to step aside and let God be God and trust.

In Matthew 22: 37-40, Jesus spoke: And He said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets."

The key sentence here is:  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  To truly love God and our neighbors, we must love as we love ourselves.  We cannot give what we don’t have whether it’s patience, humility, or love of self.  Contrary to popular opinion, self love is not selfish.  Self love is not controlling.  Self love is not filled with anxiety.  Self love is not demonstrated in worry.   Self love is not centered on us.  Self love is centered on God and allowing God to work in our lives with trust and confidence.  Self is love is knowing that no matter who the world treats us, or how the world makes us feel, there is a greater power at work, and that power is the love of God.  God loves us.  He made us to feel and be worthy of all love, including the love of ourselves.

God doesn’t make junk.  We are valuable children in the eyes of God.  He loves us with an unending love that cannot be surpassed by anyone in heaven or on earth.  God is madly in love with each of His children.  He knows us by name.  He knows our thoughts before we think them.  He has counted each hair on our head.  He is Love. If that which is love, loves us, can we reject the beauty which God gave us?   Can we refuse to love that creation of God which is ourselves?
of course not.

Like forgiveness learning to love ourselves is a process.  Learning to love ourselves is a gift from God. 
All journey’s begin with a single step.  That step is to pray and ask God for this gift.  You are worthy of self love.  Jesus loved Himself.  He knew He was good.  He knew He was Holy.  He knew, and He loved himself.  It’s okay for us to do the same.  The Father wants us to love ourselves as our brother Jesus loved himself.  If we love ourselves, we will be at peace, and this peace will flow from us to our world, and the world will be a better place.  So ask God for this gift of self love, then, when we slip and realize we are thinking poorly of ourselves, pray and ask God again for this amazing gift.  In time, you will realize you are good and worthy of God’s love, humanity’s love, and your own love.  Pray! Pray! Pray!

Heavenly Father, I ask you for the gift of self love. 
Jesus, my Brother, help me to love myself as You love Me.
Holy Spirit, open my mind that I might learn to love myself.

You will learn to love yourself so that you can love your neighbor as yourself.

What does self love have to do with self forgiveness?  When we learn to love ourselves as God loves us, we surrender to Him our self doubt, our insecurities, our anxieties, our attempts to control God, our self hatred.  We surrender to God all that He does not wish us to be.  As we learn to love ourselves, God is able to work in our souls healing, nurturing and caring for us through the gift of His unending love.  We are able to finally say, “Your Will be done.”  When we fall and make a mistake, we are able to trust that even though we have sinned, God will bring good out of sin.  We are able to trust that God will grant us the gift of forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  If God forgives us, then why shouldn’t we forgive ourselves?  All that matters is that we are able to love God with our entire heart, soul and body.  This is the epitome of self love.  God heals and cures us.  We can forgive others as we forgive ourselves because God is in control.  We have given all to Him.  He has given all to us.  We can rest easy in His Loving arms knowing that His Love will surround us as we surrender to Him.  God is good.  You are worthy of His goodness.

Jesus, I love You. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

An Advent Prayer

Praise to You,
Lord God of all Creation!
Praise to You
Jesus our Brother!
Praise to You,
Holy Spirit, our Counselor and our Guide!

The veil lifts as we approach the end of Advent.
Jesus, our Savior and God,
born of Mary,
in a stable,
the Light of Heaven
born into cold and poverty.
One with us,
Our Savior King.
but Loved with the Love only a mother can give
and a father chosen for Him.
Angels sang when You were born.
King of Angels,
no one heard but you and the humble shepherds watching their sheep in the dark night
Cold, but protective of their flocks
they left their precious sheep to find You, trusting that God would take care of them.
No one of any authority knew or believed
except for the one who wanted to kill You.
Even as a baby You reigned as a King.
The shepherds found You in your cradle of straw and wood.
They saw Your Mother holding You while Your fathers kept guard.
Sweet Jesus!
You life began in suffering, always for love us!
Jesus, Jesus, our Loving God!
Jesus, Jesus, Son of the Father,
Born of Mary,
Protected and Raised by Joseph!
Peace of Heaven!
Light in a Darkened World.!
Come, Come!
Be with us we pray.
Touch our hearts that we may learn to love You as your parents loved You.
Touch our hearts so that our hearts may beat as one with Your Most Sacred Heart.
Fill us with Your Love.
We can ask for nothing more!
Jesus!  Lord!  God!
King of all Creation!
A babe held in Your Mother's arms.
God Man.
Miracle of the Father.
Conceived by the Holy Spirit.
Your love is unending!
Glory to God in the highest!
Glory! Glory! Glory!
Praise! Praise! Praise!
Love is on earth.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013

Healing and Forgiveness

Forgive and You Shall be Forgiven
Forgive us our trespasses AS WE FORGIVE those who trespass against us

"Seek and you shall find,
Ask and it shall be given to you."
Matthew 7:7

Forgiveness is not for wimps.  Forgiveness takes courage and strength.  Forgiveness means letting go of a pain, an injury, or a hurt and allowing God to heal your brokenness. 

Forgiveness begins in the mind.  In order to forgive, we must make a conscious decision to forgive.    We must say, "Lord, God, I forgive."  With this decision, we begin the process of healing.   Each act of forgiveness begins with a decision to let go of the pain, and allow God room to work in our souls so that we might be healed.  The decision to forgive is an open invitation to God to work with us to being us peace and healing.  We still might be angry when we make the decision to forgive, but as we let go of each layer of pain, we begin to feel the love of God growing in our souls and peace becomes a flower bud ready to burst from within.

Healing is a process, and each layer of pain must be peeled away for healing to be complete.  Think of how you healed as a child when you skinned your knee.  The pain was very sharp in the beginning, especially when the injury was exposed to the fresh, clean air.  The nerves are raw because they are not protected.  The pain is sharp and the knee is tender.  Ointments are poured over the wound to help the healing process.  Then as healing takes place, there is less pain and tenderness.  One day we realize that a protective scab has been formed over the wound, but now it is gone and the wound is healed.  There is no more pain. 

The wounds in our souls are the same.  Often, a wound has been nursed for a long time so an infection has grown in the wound.  As with every infection, there is pus in the wound.  That pus (the anger) must be released. This is painful because the wound must be lanced.  (When we make the decision to forgive, we are lancing the wound.)  As the pus drains, we feel relief in the wound.  Then the healing ointment of God's love is applied to the infection.  On our part, we need to ask for these healing graces through prayer and repentance.  The layers must be peeled off from the wound, and raw nerves are exposed to the fresh air.  Sometimes, there are only a few layers to peel off.  Often times, there are many layers to peel.  Eventually, as scabs form and fall off the wound, the pain is gone.  The anger we used to feel does not exist.  This process all began with the decision to forgive.  The graces of God flowed from our minds to our hearts.  Forgiveness manifested itself in the healing of our pain. 

Many times, we think that it will be impossible to forgive a grievous hurt.  We know that we must forgive to heal our souls, but the pain is throbbing.  We must make the decision to forgive, then let God take over.  Once we have made room in our souls for him to work, then we have begun the process of forgiveness.  God, the divine healer, will do the rest. 

Lord Jesus, Son of the Father and Mary, I am sorry because I have not forgiven.  I know that we when we pray the Our Father we ask the Father to forgive us AS WE FORGIVE others.  I am having a difficult time forgiving this injury.  I ask You, Jesus, the Divine Healer, to work in my soul.  I make the decision now to forgive the person who inflicted this grievous hurt on me.  I ask You to forgive them.  I ask You to help me forgive them.  I am weak, Lord, but You are strong.  You are My God, My Lord, and my Savior.  Thank You for Your help.  I want to forgive, and I ask to be forgiven.  Praise You, Heavenly Father.  Praise You, Divine Son.  Praise You, Holy Spirit. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

How to Make A Good Confession

Sin is a reality.  We are all sinners.  In order to reconcile ourselves to our Loving God, we must  repent of our sinful ways and seek reconciliation with God.  As Catholics, the best way for us to be reconciled with God is through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

By confessing our sins to a priest, through the power granted to a priest in the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the priest is able to grant us the pardon and peace of God. 

How do we make a good confession?  A little preparation is needed.

Step 1:  Before you enter the confessional, say a prayer to the Holy Spirit so that you mind and heart will be open.  He will give you the strength to face your sins, both mortal and venial, and tell them to the priest.  An easy prayer might be:  Come Holy Spirit, Open my mind and my heart.  I am sorry for the offenses I have committed against You, my Loving God.  Give me courage so that I might be open to your graces that will fill my heart once I am open to You.  Come Holy Spirit, come.

Step 2:  Examine your conscience.  Own your sins.  Make no excuses.  Own your sins.  To find resources for an online examination of conscience, click HERE.

Step 3: Be sorry for your sins.  Meditate on how they have offended God. 

Step 4: Begin by entering the confessional.  You may either kneel behind the screen or have a face to face confession with the priest.  Begin by saying, "Bless me, Father, for I have sinned.  It's been (State the amount of time that it's been since your last confession.) since my last confession.  Even if it's been years, be honest with the priest.  If you are unsure what to do next, ask the priest to guide you through the confession. 

Step 5:  Confess your sins.  Begin with the most difficult sins first.  These are usually mortal sins.  What is a mortal sin?  A mortal sin is one in which 3 conditions must be met.  According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1857, "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent."  In other words, using the Commandment:  Thou Shalt not Kill, if you had murdered some one (grave matter) knowing that it was a grave matter and you killed someone, you have committed a mortal sin.  Murder is not the only mortal sin.  If you do not know, as the priest.  He will be able to tell you which of your sins are mortal and which of your sins are venial.  ***

Step 6:  Recite the Act of Contrition. 

Oh, my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You, and I detest all my sins because I have offended You, my God, who are all good and worthy of all my love.  I firmly resolve with the help of Your Grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.  Amen.  

Step 7:  The priest will now assign you a penance.  The penance is usually a prayer or group of prayers to be said, but a penance can be actions, too. 

Step 8:  Before you leave the confessional, the priest will give you the blessings of pardon and peace.  Be open and grateful to this gift.

Step 9:  Leave the confessional and perform your penance.  Spend a some time in prayer thanking God for the gift of His forgiveness.  Ask Him to give you the grace to avoid persons, places or things that might lead you into sin.  Ask Him for the courage to avoid sin.  Tell God how much you love Him. 

***When confessing your sins, do not be afraid.  The priest has heard it all from people of all walks of life, from the powerful to the least.  You will find great relief when you confess no matter how embarrassed you feel at the time.  God's love is unending.  God's mercy is unending. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pray for us!

 Protector of the Unborn, 
Pray for us!

 Woman Clothed with the Sun,
Pray for us!

 Patroness of the Americas,
Pray for us.

Mother of God,
Pray for us!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Prepare the Way of the Lord - The Sacrament of Reconcilliation

Examination of Conscience
Sacrament of Confession

    Yes, I am of the old school.  I still call the Sacrament of Reconciliation the Sacrament of Confession.  Like a rose, by any other name, this Sacrament is a Sacrament of great graces and peace no matter the name. 
    Many times, in our modern world, the lines of sin are blurred.  What would have been considered a great scandal 20 years ago, is now considered a way of life.  The influence of our culture makes it difficult for us to know when sin is actually committed.  Violence in words and actions is increasing. Our society condones many sinful actions.  We are told that if we do not feel an action is wrong, then that action is neither wrong nor sinful.  Violence against our unborn is now a right, and not a sin.   In spite of this, we have to realize that violence does require a reconciliation with God.
    During the season of Advent, as we prepare the way of the Lord, we are offered many chances to reconcile with God and grow in peace.  When we find peace, others are affected by our peace.  When we find that God is near us in through Sacrament of Reconciliation, others feel the peace and closeness of God through us.
    Many people argue that we don’t have to tell a priest our sins, that we can just tell them to God and He will forgive us.  I assume that, to a point, that statement might be true, however, we, as members of the Catholic Church, know that through the priest in the confessional, God speaks to us.  Through the gift of the priest, God will grant us pardon and peace when we confess and truly repent of our sins.
    Although there is much more to making a good confession, we must begin with an examination of conscience.  The problem becomes that, often, we do not know which of our thoughts, words, or deeds are sinful.  Learning  what is sin is critical to making a good confession and changing our way of life so that we can grow closer to God in this world.  The world is fleeting, but eternity is not.  We are only short timers on earth.  As human beings the only way out of this life is to die.  Death comes to all.  Peace does not.
    Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we are given a chance to grow in peace and holiness.  If we do not know what we are doing is sinful, then we cannot remove this obstacle to God.  Sin is a barrier to the love of God flowing in and through us.  When we repent,  God forgives and forgives.  His mercy is endless.  His Love is unending.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation helps us to prepare to grow in holiness.
    Step one of making a good confession is an examination of conscience.  Below are some online sites that help us prepare for the gift of confession by guiding us through the commandments with information on what violates each of the ten commandments.  These violations are our sins.  Make a list.  Take this list with you to confession.  When it is time to confess, do not be afraid or embarrassed.  The priest has heard it all.  I doubt that there are many surprises in the confessional.  Take your sins into the priest, and you will leave with peace and forgiveness that only God can give. 
    Check out each of these sites.  One might be more fitting for you than another.  Use these sites and prepare for your encounter with God.  Advent is your chance to reconcile with God.  He waits for you!

Online sites for a Catholic Examination of Conscience

(I don't know if these sites will click for you, but if they don't, copy and paste into your browser.)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Litany Blessings for the Holidays

Oh, God, our Heavenly Father, we ask You to bless us during this season in which we are preparing for the birth of Your Son.  Holy Spirit, we ask you to enlighten our minds so that our thoughts, words, and actions may be directed to our Triune God.  Sweet Brother, Jesus, help us to prepare for the celebration of Your birth so that we may rejoice with the heavenly hosts at the moment of Your birth.

Bless us, Lord,      R. Bless us, Lord.
Bless our families. 
Bless our children.
Bless our spouses.
Bless our memories.
Bless our friends and their families. 

Bless children in every land.
Bless the newborn babes.
Bless all women who carry a baby in their bodies.
Bless all children nestled in the womb.
Bless these children and give them life.
Bless all children who live in poverty.
Bless all children so they will appreciate their parents.
Bless all children so that this celebration of your birth will be more about You and less about Santa and presents.
Bless all children who venerate You.
Bless all of our missing children. Bring them home for Christmas.

Bless all families with peace, not only during the holidays, but always.
Bless all families so that old hurts will be healed.
Bless all families so that Your birth may be truly celebrated.

Bless all of our clergy, particularly our priests, bishops, and cardinals.
Bless all of those who are studying for religious life.
Bless our dearest  Pope Francis.
Bless our nuns and give them joy in their service of God.

Bless all of those who are lonely and hurting during this time of year.
Bless all of those who suffer from depression.
Bless all of those who have no hope.
Bless all of those who suffer from the torment of mental illness.
Bless all of those who suffer from the pain and torment of addictions.
Bless all of our sick.
Bless all those who are dying.
Bless all those involved in the care of the sick and dying.
Bless all those  who will work on Christmas Day.
Bless all those who will be separated from their families on Christmas Day.
Bless all those who serve in the military.
Bless all those who serve in law enforcement and fire fighters.
Bless our first responders.
Bless all those who will serve in our churches on Christmas.
Bless all those who will die on Christmas Day.
Bless their grieving families.

Bless all the homeless.
Bless all the poor.
Bless all those who will not eat on Christmas Day.
Bless all who will bury their pain in drugs and alcohol.
Bless all those who will attempt or succeed at suicide.
Bless all those who will become angry on Christmas.
Bless all those who will leave the Church.
Bless all those who have left the Church
Bless our non Catholic sisters and brothers.

Bless all those captured in the snare of grave sin.  Free them from their sin. 
Bless all those who would seek to destroy us.  Free them from their sin.
Bless all those who have harmed us.
Bless us with the graces to forgive.

Bless us, Lord, bless us.
Heavenly Father, Jesus our brother, Holy Spirit our guide, thank You for the many blessings You pour down on us each day.  Thank You for the gift of Mary, our mother.  Thank You for the gift of life.  Thank You for the women who chose life for us.  Lord, God, bless us.  Forgive us.  We return all of our blessings to You in great gratitude. 

Jesus, our Brother, we join with the Father and the Holy Spirit in celebrating Your Birth.  We join with the angels and saints praising You and adoring You.  Fill us with Your Spirit.  Fill us with love for the Father.  Help us to get to know our guardian angels better.  Thank You, Father.  Thank You, Jesus.  Thank You, Holy Spirit.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Mary's Memories - Meditations on the Rosary

Pope John Paul II wrote of "Mary's Memories" in the Rosary.   In his Apostolic letter "Rosarium Virginis Mariae"  Pope John Paul, soon to be canonized, wrote,

"Mary lived with her eyes fixed on Christ, treasuring his every word: “She kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19; cf. 2:51). The memories of Jesus, impressed upon her heart, were always with her, leading her to reflect on the various moments of her life at her Son's side. In a way those memories were to be the “rosary” which she recited uninterruptedly throughout her earthly life."

With the season of Advent upon us, our focus should turn to Mary, the Mother of God.  By imitating her virtue, we will be better prepared to greet her Son on Christmas Day.    Inspired by her memories of the Rosary, I wrote these Meditations on the Rosary.  The first ones we encounter in "Mary's memories," are the Joyful mysteries.  As I wrote, I tried to look at these mysteries through Mary's eyes.  Of course, these responses are fictional.  I am writing these, not Mary.  My hope is that by looking at these mysteries through Mary's eyes, we will come to know Jesus better.

Mary's Memories
Meditations on the Rosary

The Joyful Mysteries

The Annunciation

I was praying, thanking God for all of His goodness and mercies.  I heard my name whispered in the wind.  I opened my eyes and I saw a being of light in front of me.  He greeted me by saying, "Hail, full of grace."  I was surprised by such a greeting.  He was so beautiful.  I knew he was from God.  He told me his name was Gabriel.  He told me that I was blessed among women.  He said that I would bear a son, the Promised One, and that I would name Him, Jesus.  I was very surprised.  I didn't understand how this could be since I had not known man.  He said that the power of the Holy Spirit would come upon me.  This is how I would conceive my Son, the Holy one of God.  I replied that it should be done according to God's Will.  When the angel left, I knew I was with child.

The Visitation

Gabriel also told me that my cousin, Elizabeth, who was beyond the age of bearing children was going to have a son!  I was so excited!  He said that Elizabeth was in her sixth month.  I knew that I had to go help her.  I sought permission, and I was allowed to go to take care of her.  The journey was difficult, but the Babe in my womb made my travels easier.  I didn't know what Joseph would think when I returned, but I knew that God would take care of my precious Son, His Son, and me.  When I saw Elizabeth she was great with child, and she knew I was pregnant.  She said that her son jumped in her womb when we arrived.  God is so good!  Elizabeth and I immediately fell into prayer praising God for these miracle children of ours!  Elizabeth knew that my Son was her Savior!  God is so good!  I stayed until John was born.  Now, I could see that my body had changed.  My parents and Joseph would know that I was with child.  God would take care of us.

The Birth of Jesus
Joseph is such a wonderful husband!  He said that an angel came to him in a dream and told him not to be afraid to take me for his wife.  The angel told him that this baby would be the promised Messiah.  That next morning, Joseph brought me home.  Now, we are on a journey to Bethlehem where Joseph must register for the census.  I am great with child now.  I feel so tired.  Joseph has been so kind.  He bought a donkey so that I could ride.  My Son kicks so much.  I think He's ready to be born, too!  I know He's a King, but only Joseph and I know that.  He should be born in a palace, but Joseph was only able to find a stable.  I know my time has come.  My Babe will begin his life in poverty for Joseph and I do not have wealth.  We only have love.  My Son will be rich in love.  The angels have surrounded me now.  Joseph is outside waiting. The angels will bring Jesus into this world, and they do.  I do not need a midwife.  God is watching over us.  Joseph heard the first cry of his foster child, and he ran into to meet the Son of God.  Joseph could hear the angels singing, too.  There is great joy in heaven.  Joseph fell to his knees adoring and worshiping the Son of God!!  God's Son is born.  I wrapped Jesus in all the blankets we brought with us.  I hold Him close to my heart.  He's a beautiful baby!  We adore Jesus!  He is our God and our Son.  The Father is so good to us!

The Presentation

My child must be given back to God today.  Joseph and I will go to the temple and pay our tribute to the temple to ransom our Son.  I must be purified too.  Joseph feels he can take care of Jesus while I take the ritual bath.  He still seems a little nervous, though.  Joseph asked me last night if I thought that he would be able to teach Jesus anything.  I know that Joseph will teach him so much!  Jesus will be a carpenter like his father.  We enter the temple.  The women of the temple tell me how beautiful Jesus is.  This makes both Joseph and I proud.  We don't have much money.  Joseph gave me his food last night, and he didn't eat.  Later I saw Jesus asleep in Joseph's arms.  I smiled.  God is so good!  Simeon stopped us as we walked into the temple.  He said that God could take him now because God had kept His promise that he, Simeon, would not die until he beheld the Messiah.  Simeon also told me that my Son would be the rise and fall of many and that a sword would pierce my heart.  Yet, Simeon's face glowed when he held Jesus.  I believe that what he spoke is true for I felt the scrape of a knife on my heart at that moment.

The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple

Every year we travel to Jerusalem with our families in a caravan.  Jesus enjoys His cousins, and  He loves my mother's bread!  Jesus always finds His way to the fires where Mother cooks.  Jesus is a good boy.  He always waits until He is offered bread from Grandmother, then He eats it so fast!  Grand Mother loves her Grandson!  Everyone seems to love Jesus!  Our visit to the temple is prayerful and holy.  Jesus was with the men this year.  He became a man!  Jesus, my child, is a man according to our traditions.  We have all gathered to go home, and it's time to leave.  I don't see Jesus, but He is probably with His cousins.  I don't see them either.  Joseph said not to worry about Him.  He needs to be given the respect of a man now.  He knows that Jesus will be at His grandmother's cooking fires for supper.  We traveled the entire day.  Evening has come and I still haven't seen Jesus.  I asked Mother if Jesus had been here.  She told me that she hadn't seen Him all day.  He usually finds her to give her a hug.  It's then that Joseph and I realized that Jesus is not with the caravan.  We can't go back tonight.  We have to wait until morning. 

Joseph is very upset.  We reached Jerusalem the next evening.  We looked for Jesus among the people we knew who were still there.  They had not seen Jesus. We found a place to stay, and Joseph promised me that we would continue our search in the morning.  We both rose at dawn.  I had been in prayer most of the night.  Joseph slept fitfully.  We searched and searched.  We reached the temple and decided to go in to pray for our Son's safety.  As we entered the Temple, we both saw Jesus and ran to him.  I don't think I've ever seen Joseph so upset.  He couldn't even talk.  Jesus smiled at both of us.  I said to Jesus, "Your father and I have been searching for You."  Jesus looked at me.  He looked confused.  He didn't seem to understand why Joseph was so upset.  Jesus said to me, "Didn't you know that I must be about my Father's business?"  The elders in the temple took Joseph aside.  Joseph told me later that the elders told him that Jesus was wise beyond His years.  They wanted Joseph to consider leaving Him at the temple to be educated in the law.  Joseph, thanked them for being so kind.  I could see that Joseph was calm now.  Joseph said that Jesus would be returning with us to Nazareth.  The elders understood.  We left the temple as a family and began our second journey home.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Mary, the Immaculate Conception

Hail Mary,
Full of Grace,
The Lord is with you,
Blessed Are You Among Women,
Blessed is the Fruit of your Womb,
Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
Pray for Us Sinners
and at the hour of our death.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Are You Ready?

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was with God." 

The time of preparation was over. The long awaited Messiah, prophesied in ancient times, was born in a stable, not a palace. He was born into our world as the Gift of Love.  His parents were poor.  He was not attached to the things of this world. He was not welcomed with trumpets. Humble, hard working shepherds were the first to greet the infant King.

Now, we prepare to greet the Messiah, Jesus our King, and we must be ready.  Advent is a time or preparation, prayer and penance.  The days are short, and the nights are long. Darkness overwhelms our world.  We look for the Light to come. 

Lord, we ask You for Your graces as we  begin this season of Advent.  Through fasting, free us from our earthly wants, possessions, and sin.  Through prayer, bring us closer to You.   Through Love, give us patience.  Through Sacred Scripture bring Your Words to life in our hearts.   Through Your Mother Mary give us the graces that will bring our broken, beaten hearts to You.  Transform us.

Remind us, that Christmas is the celebration of Your Birth.  While we gather with family and friends, be with us.  Help us to know You.   You brought heaven to earth.  You brought light to the darkness. Transform our lives.  Transform our world.

Mother Mary, first tabernacle of Jesus, carry us in your heart as you carried Jesus in your  pure womb. 

Jesus, You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God, have Mercy on Me a sinner.  Amen.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Canticle of Mary

Luke 2: 41-55

When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  And how does it happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.  Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.

And Mary said,
" My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.  
For He has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness;  behold from now on will all ages call me blessed. 
The Mighty One has done great things for me, and Holy is His Name.
His mercy is from age to age to those who fear Him.
He has shown might with His arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry He has filled up with good things; the rich He has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel His servant, remembering His mercy,
according to the promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thoughts on Mary, the Mother of God, During Advent

God has a way of working things out when we trust Him.

Mary trusted God.

She was young. She was engaged to a man named Joseph who was of the House of David.

(Luke 2: 26-38)
When the Angel Gabriel appeared to her, she was troubled at his greeting.  “Hail, Favored One.”  Then she heard the rest of his message, “Mary, Don’t be afraid, for you have found favor with God. You will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you will call Him, Jesus.”  She heard the angel say, “ He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the Throne of David, His father, and He will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of His Kingdom there will be no end.”

She did not doubt the messenger when he told her she had been chosen to be the mother of the Most High.  She only asked one question when Gabriel appeared to her.  “How shall this be done?  She was a virgin.  She had no relations with a man.

She was reassured when the angel said: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  Therefore, the child to be born will be called Holy, the Son of God.”

Gabriel went on to tell Mary that her elderly cousin, Elizabeth would also give birth soon.  She was in her sixth month. “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.”  Then the angel departed from her.

Mary trusted in God. She knew that everything would work out according to His plans.  She left to visit and help care for her elderly cousin, Elizabeth, who was also carrying a child.  Even as she went on her way, she simply trusted God would take care of everything.

The problem was that Mary was unmarried and pregnant.  She was also engaged to Joseph, and he was not the baby’s father.  When Mary left to visit Elizabeth, Joseph didn’t know that Mary was with child, much less that this child was the Son of God. All would be revealed , and when Joseph learned that his bride was going to have a child that was not his,  he would have to make a decision.  By law, under these circumstances, Joseph did not have to take her into his home as his wife.  According to the law, he could divorce her.  At that point, Mary would be subject to the law, and as an adulteress,  she could be stoned to death.  Joseph was concerned for the safety of Mary and her child.  Joseph’s decision would be to divorce her quietly and not subject Mary to shame and cruelty.

God, knowing the great faith of Joseph, stepped in to take care of the Mother of His Son.  God sent an angel to Joseph in a dream.  The angel told Joseph not to fear, and to take Mary into his home as his wife.  The angel told Joseph that this child was the Promised One.  Without delay, Joseph took Mary as his wife.

God chose well.